Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
LYNCHBURG — There’s multiple reasons why Unioto’s Sydney Free is an All-Ohio goalkeeper, and each were on full display Wednesday night.
In a battle of state-ranked soccer programs, Free was magnificent all night long. Competing against Lynchburg-Clay, the senior silenced the Mustangs’ offense, putting a stop to each and every scoring chance it had.
Her performance was the centerpiece of an important 1-0 non-league win.
“Going on the road, this is a big win. Usually, when you go on the road, you find yourself down 1-0. So this is a big win for us” Unioto coach Jeremy Clark said. “Syd has been solid for four years. I know, in a close game, we have a chance because she’s in goal.”
The Mustangs (4-2) came into the contest as a top ten team in Division III. They sent 13 shots towards Free and she tallied 11 saves. The remaining two sailed above the net and wide right.
“They had a lot of speed up top, so they were doing a good job whenever they were taking the through balls,” Free said of Lynchburg-Clay. “At the beginning, it took us a little bit to adjust. But once we got them figured out a little bit, we started to settle down. We all just stayed calm and kept it together. That’s what helped us win.”
The only goal of the night came just seven minutes into the action when Unioto’s Brandy Robinson at the 33:42 mark, which took place on an awarded free kick. Robinson played well throughout the match as well, winning the ball frequently and maintaining possession.
From there, the Shermans’ defense was pressured habitually, especially in the final 60 minutes. Lynchburg-Clay took seven corner kicks and outshot Unioto by a 13-8 margin.
“We need to put halves together,” Clark said. “In the second half, we weren’t playing to feet. When they press and we don’t play to feet, they get the ball. Then, it’s five against our back four. If we would’ve done that in the second half, we wouldn’t have had a problem.”
The loss for the Mustangs comes in the team’s first contest in 13 days. They’ll now try and bounce back on Friday, hosting Georgetown.
Meanwhile, the schedule doesn’t get any easier for Unioto. The Shermans (5-1) now look towards another non-league matchup on Saturday as they host Olentangy.
The Braves will enter that matchup at 5-2-1 with wins over Grove City, Canal Winchester, Northview, Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy Berlin. It’s a solid Division I opponent for the Shermans who face, arguably, the most challenging non-league schedule in the area.
“We just have to put two halves together. We haven’t done that yet,” Clark said. “